Step 6 - Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character
Step 7 - Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings
One of the reasons why I thought we’d go through steps 6 and 7 in one week is because the Big Book literally races through those two steps. After finishing the discussion on Step 5, this is all it says:
“… we then look at Step Six. We have emphasized willingness as being indispensable. Are we now ready to let God remove from us all the things which we have admitted are objectionable? Can He now take them all, everyone? If we still cling to something we will not let go, we ask God to help us be willing.
When ready, we say something like this: "My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding. Amen." We have then completed Step Seven.”
It is actually, to a large degree, this way of looking at step work that inspired me to do a quick and easy step study. Quite a few years ago, I did a Step 5 with a died-in-the-wool AA member, and he told me about it. Two paragraphs in two steps, no reason to waste any time. Experiencing the steps in their entirety is, in a way, an urgent matter. Just like Bill W. and friends, who started AA and weren’t just social drinkers, we did not come to OA because we eat a bit much now and then and would like to shed a few pounds. For most of us this is the end of the line. We’ve tried it all, the dieting, the hypnosis and the calorie counting, the affirmations and an endless array of self help books. They didn’t work. That’s why we’re here. We better get to it!
Step 6 is about willingness. I was delighted when I found that concept. It just seems so failsafe. Not willing? Fine. How about – am I willing to be willing? In almost all cases. Once in a blue moon I have to go a step further and have to say I’m willing to be willing to be willing. This willingness, it just feels so hopeful to me. It is what has kept me from diving back into the morass of overeating when the going got rough. Especially last year, when I had a pretty nasty experience. Had a great plan for carefully losing a few pounds, discussed it with my sponsor and with my doctor, it wasn’t difficult to carry out – and then, for mysterious reasons, my body responded by gaining weight instead of losing it. I was devastated, and have to confess that I did eat a little more for a few weeks. From pre-OA experience, though, I know that ordinarily this would have set me off into an eating frenzy that would have lasted a good 30, 40 pounds. Instead, with the help of this wonderful willingness, I just kept doing my program work. Maybe for those few weeks I wasn’t willing to forego larger portions. But I was willing to go to meetings, talk to my sponsor, send my daily step 10 to my buddy. And I was willing to be open to be willing to stop eating those unnecessary portion sizes.
“If we still cling to something we will not let go, we ask God to help us be willing.” In most cases these days, it feels not so much like wilful clinging, it’s more like my fingers have become stiff from grabbing onto that unhealthy feeling, thought or behaviour for so long that I really don’t know anymore how to open my hand. Doing my taxes, for example. Boy, I hate doing that. Hm, “hate” – a strong word. There is clearly still some power in this unwillingness – but honestly, I am willing to be willing. (Ask me at the end of Step 12 how I’m doing with that ?)
Then there is Step 7, “Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.”
I’ll never forget hearing about that step for the first time. It was just a few weeks into joining OA. I was blown away by the program concept of humility. It has absolutely nothing to do with humiliation, and everything with simplicity, equality and reality. We are all equal before each other and before the Great Reality (whatever you want to call that – God, the universe, scientific/natural laws, etc.) The sun shines on all of us equally, there is no reason for me to think that it “likes” me more or less than the next guy (btw, see how self centered it would be for me to think that?) Reality is also very much about the here and now, so if there is a problem because of one of my shortcomings, either I can fix it right now, or – more often – I just have to accept that this shortcoming exists right now. That’s humility. A lot of my shortcomings have existed for a long time, and they’re baffling. I don’t have a great track record of removing them. Which is why I need to ask for help. My Higher Power has a GOOD track record of helping with that. And that’s humility, too – to accept that I just can’t do it by myself.
Humility also means that I need to be able to let it go and not be attached to a timeline. “HP, I need to have these 10 pounds on my hips removed by September 17th” doesn’t seem to work. I just say, ok, HP, it’s your turn. Right now I have to do this with my daughter-in-law. Our relationship has been the cause of many tears, sad moments and angry thoughts (probably on her part as much as on mine). I’ve tried talking, emailing, even thought about involving a counsellor, I’ve tried pretending nothing’s wrong, not contacting her, contacting her. Finally, last fall I gave up and started praying for her instead, putting her into the hands of a divine, loving presence every day. Our relationship seems to have thawed a little bit, I get to see the grandchildren a little more, and what’s best is that my feelings, thoughts and words about her are so much kinder. I don’t have a clue when or if the overall problem is ever going to be solved. Giving up on trying to control that was a huge relief.
Oh, there is so much to say here. But we were going to keep it simple, right?
"Higher Power, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding."
What do you think when you read this? What about the humility that is implied in “you should have all of me” and “do your bidding?”
How do your character defects stand in the way of your usefulness to a Higher Power and to your fellows?
What strength do you hope for? (E.g. strength to stand your ground, or to speak the truth, or to do without self centeredness … there are many sorts of strengths)
What’s something that you are willing to do, today?
What’s something that you are willing to become willing to do?
Any favourite passage from the Big Book or other program writing?
Top of Page
For today, I’m just going to muse a bit because … well, because something is shaking/shaping up inside because of your shares and I don’t quite know what it is. Maybe moving my fingers around on the keyboard will shed a bit of light on it.
For me, Steps 3, 7 and 11 are intricately connected. Made a decision to turn my will and my life over to my Higher Power … humbly asked my Higher Power to remove my shortcomings … asking only for the knowledge of my Higher Power’s will and the strength to carry it out … it’s all about taking “me” out of the equation.
“Me” is in quotation marks because it’s that part of Isabella that tries to run the show but has not shown much skill in it. It’s like making my 15-year-old daughter head of the accounting department. Not a good idea. Only my daughter would be smart enough to know that. She’s a lovely young woman with a great fashion sense, a talent for French and an amazing imagination – but numbers aren’t her thing.
So what/who is this “me” who wants to run my food show? I suspect it’s the same part that spends too much time on Facebook and computer games, has a hard time directing her thoughts away from work at night after an intense day at the office, and who often pays her bills way too late. As I’m describing that part, it feels young, scared, overwhelmed , harried, ungrounded. Why in heaven’s name would I put her in charge?
I’m laughing as I am rereading this now. Here I am, a fervent believer in professionalism, excellence and well-run organizations, and I still have someone in management who clearly isn’t in any shape to do her job. This poor creature needs a break! She needs a parental figure, needs someone to protect her and help her deal with her fears. She needs less work, and to get her feet back on the ground. And in the meantime, someone super qualified – my Higher Power – has been there all along to smoothly run this organism called Isabella. Why WOULDN’T I turn management over to her? Why WOULDN’T I ask her to straighten things out?
I don’t know where this is going but right now I have this great sense of compassion and love for that “me” that desparately wants to run the show but just doesn’t have the skills and resources to do it. I want to leave the show completely and utterly to the wise old Higher Power who knows what to do. I don’t know how to pass all the reigns over to that Higher Power, but I know that there is nothing better I can do.
Thanks for letting me share.
The Twelve Steps